Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6–9, NIV)
“Speaks of God’s will and guides for holy living”
We are living in an anxious time. What specific things do you worry about? How have you given these concerns to God?
How have you found peace in God?
What things in your life would you call true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? In what ways do you keep these things at the center of your focus?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19–24, NIV)
Recognition. Prestige. Accolades. All things money might bring us. What is does NOT bring us, however, is the treasure of heaven.
If we “Can’t take it with us,” why do you think people spend as much time and effort as they do trying to gain wealth and possessions?
Someone once said that our calendars and checkbooks tell us our priorities. Where are, in the words of Matthew, your treasures? Where is your heart?
What are ways you can be focused on serving God more than your money or possessions?
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19, NIV)
Another one of those verses that is easy to understand what James is calling us to do … it is just much harder to actually do it.
How well do you listen? Why would listening be a challenge for people?
Publilius Syrus is quoted as saying: “I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent.” When have you found this to be true in your own life?
Why do we become angry and what things can we do to NOT react in anger? What things help you be slower in angry?
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” (Luke 17:7–10, NIV)
“This section talks about the expectations we have for our obedience. We are to serve for the Lord without reward for correct behavior. We are to do right because it is right, not for some benefit.”
The image of a servant such as this may seem foreign to us, yet what expectations do we have of the people who serve us?
What are some ways you have acted simply because it was the right thing to do, not because it was because you were getting something for it?
Why is it so easy for us to assume we deserve something for simply doing what we ought?
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NIV)
In the darkest of days, you have reason NOT to fear.
Think of times in your life that you would describe as a “dark valley.” How do you think you reacted to those times: fear or comfort?
Why do we assume that evil can harm us? How do we reconcile the psalmist’s comment that we have no reason to fear evil with the reality that evil can and does cause us pain and hurt?
How does a life of faith, full of the comfort of knowing God is with you, look like in practical terms? In other words, how would I know this person when I saw him or her?
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1–11, NIV)
“It forms me. I think and act more like Christ when this scripture is on my heart.”
In what ways do you find yourself doing things out of “selfish ambition?” Why do you think it is so easy for people to do this?
What are ways you remind yourself to look to the interests of others, rather than your own interests? What suggestions would you have for someone trying to live this way?
How does Jesus’ giving himself for you help you better seek humility in your own life?
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:1–9, NIV)
We have been justified by faith and the result is we can have peace!
Think about times in your life when you have attempted to live perfect a perfect life, without any mess-ups. How much peace did you feel during these times?
In the midst of trying times, what–or who–gives you hope?
How does it make you feel to know that someone died for you when you were most powerless? What sort of response does this make you want to have?